Thursday, April 24th, 2014

West Jeff’s revamped website nears completion

wj canine cop web

Community activist Paula Martin (left) commissioned a pencil drawing of the newest member of West Jefferson’s Police Department, “Arc,” a drug-sniffing German shepherd. She and Ed Medors (right), a local artist, presented the drawing to Detective Brandon Smith (center), who handles Arc. Medors is working on a similar piece for Police Chief Terry Ward’s office. “The smartest thing the village did was get the dog,” Martin said.

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

West Jefferson Council members got a sneak preview of a proposed new website for the village and had the opportunity to offer suggestions.

The webmaster who serves Hurt-Battelle Memorial Library in West Jefferson is developing the site for the village. Library Director Cathy Allen presented the proposed site at the Sept. 3 council meeting.

“Nothing is live,” she said, “It’s what you want it to be. You can change it when you want to.”

Village officials first considered creating a new website earlier this summer after shutting down a village-related Facebook page on which they felt comments were getting out of hand.

Council’s special events committee has been looking at revamping the website so that it provides information for the residents as well as markets the village.

The proposed new website features a slide show of current village photos, rolling alerts to the public, and links to the Ohio Memory Project, Ohio Revised Code, and local schools and businesses.

Also included is information about the business park at I-70 and State Route 29, pages for the mayor, council members and each department, a visitor’s guide to area attractions, and a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. Photos of each past mayor will also be on the site.

“We’re trying to make it friendly and hold onto our smalltown values while looking forward,” said Councilman Steve Johnston, chair of the special events committee. “It will have to say, ‘We have our act together. Check us out.’ ”

Allen said that everything on the current website has been transferred to the prototype.

Councilman Doug Eakins suggested that the village charter be posted on the site.

Johnston suggested that photos of police officers not be posted.

“It’s getting to be common practice not to put police officers photos up or where they live, for their own safety,” he said.

The website effort drew praise from the audience.

“As one who has been pushing for the change, what you’ve done is phenomenal,” said resident Paula Martin. “I also have a lot of history from my late husband’s mother, such as photos from the early 1900s, if you’d like to have them.”

Allen encouraged council and the community to offer ideas for changes, such as color scheme, what pages to include and what information to post.

“This could go live with the touch of a button,” Allen said, “but we won’t do anything until we get your go-ahead.”

Open positions
Council is looking for people to fill a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission, vacated by Arnold Booth who resigned to become the village’s part-time zoning inspector. His term expires at the end of 2014.

“So, we have to appoint someone to fill out his three-year term,” said Council President Ron Garver.

Additionally, Rhoda Easton’s term on the commission expires at the end of this year.

Council also needs to fill the clerk of council position. Current clerk Emilia Jackson is moving out of the county and taking a position with the Ohio Department of Aging. Her last day is Sept. 13.

Jackson also works in the water department and as the village webmaster. Council members and village employees raised questions about whether to hire a clerk of council or someone who could handle the clerk duties and the website.

Permission granted to repair streets
Public Service Director Dave Metzger received permission, after lengthy discussion, to make plans to repair several streets this fall. A hastily written piece of legislation, penned on the back of a piece of paper by Finance Director Jack Herrel, won approval on a 5-1 vote, with Garver voting against it. Council member Sheila Nelson was absent.

Garver said he voted against the legislation because the issue was brought up at the previous meeting and Metzger was advised to have a resolution ready at this meeting, but didn’t have anything prepared. Instead Metzger continued to talk about different ways he could repair the streets.

Metzger said $30,000 was in the budget under contractual services for such repairs, and he could either use a hot mix or a cold mix. He said in August that he’d like to have a decision early in September so he could rent equipment and get the work done yet this fall. He also said then that if there were no decision forthcoming, it would be too late to get any work done this fall.

At the Sept. 3 meeting, he again started talking about the work that needed to be done. Councilman Jim King wanted to know if the money could be appropriated. King said he doesn’t care for hot patching.

Garver wanted to save the question and vote on it at the next meeting when legislation could be written for formal presentation.

“It has to be written,” he maintained.

“If you can’t do it now, we’ll have to hold off until spring,” Metzger said.

That’s when Herrel wrote the required legislation on the spot, then read it for council’s vote.

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